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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"The diary of an Iranian street child."

"It is my pleasure once again to feature another excellent blog written by my 
  dear Iranian friend Paymaneh. Paymaneh is an Iranian-Christian refuge
  living in exile in Malaysia. Even though she lives faraway from her homeland,
  she has not forgotten her people. Every week on my radio program,
I give Paymaneh a "voice" by reading her powerful stories that bring awareness
 to the plight of Iranian people living behind the "iron curtain" of the Islamic
 Republic of Iran.
 In her new blog, Paymaneh takes us to the streets of Tehran and introduces us
 to the suffering children who must sell their bodies and souls to stay alive!

Every person in the world has their own story to tell. My story is the story of POVERTY!
Most children in Iran are very poor, so poor that we have to abandon going to school and instead work in the streets, in both rainy and cold weather, wandering among cars, selling flowers and snacks.

 "Sir would you like to buy these flowers? "  "Do you need some chewing gum?"
  "These Quran verses will solve the problems of your life!

 From morning until evening, exhausted and hungry, we plead with people to buy our flowers or gum.
 Unlike others, we love the traffic lights! We have to jump in front of people's cars,and quickly clean their windshields. Some people ignore us, some treat us like animals, and fortunately, a few give us some money.
 We are also known as "rented kids," who are dropped off in the morning by a mini bus at specific locations to work the streets and sell our merchandise. At the end of the day, our employer collects our earnings and maybe if we're lucky he will reward us with a few Tomans.

Who's fault is it, if our parents cannot make money, because they are in prison or addicted to drugs or disabled?

Most of our mothers, if they cannot earn money, will sell their kidneys in order to survive for another month. Most of us cannot go to school. We are bullied, offended, abused, raped, or used by our employers to carry drugs. Because of that, most of us end up becoming addicts.

We are suffering, dying, and crying out in desperation, while billions of dollars which should be ours, instead is being transferred into foreign bank accounts by Mullahs and government officials. The terrorists in Syria and Lebanon receive their illegal portion of the money to buy weapons, while we are starving and dying in the streets.
Millions of dollars are used to decorate the Masouleum of Khomeini and enhance the gold dome and the carpets inside. The Shi'e Imam's tombs are beautiful, bright and polished and we have to pay for them with our lives in darkness and despair.
We are living in hell while the Mullahs are living the lifestyles of Kings and emperors.

 I have a question for the Supreme Leader, Mr. Khamenei, what will you do with the money you received from the nuclear deal? Will you help us so that we don't have to wander the streets day and night and sell our bodies and souls to stay alive?

I feel like I don't have any hope. I don't have a future. I feel that I will never see anything different

than stop lights, trash dumpsters and cardboard boxes to sleep on for the rest of my life.
I was born in the streets and I will die in the streets.
Rooz Khosh ( Have a nice day)

         (About the author, Paymaneh Sabet)

I am an Iranian lecturer, a teacher, and a translator. But previously I also wrote journals. I love writing and producing short films. I love to write about romance, love stories, and the greatest love story between God and His people.
It is my duty to use my gifts and talents to stand up against the dictatorship in Iran and cry out for their freedom. I want to do my best to reach them with the gospel, inspite of their barriers and limitations. I want the world to know the true know their faces and the human rights atrocities they have suffered with for the past 36 years.
My biggest dream is that Iranians will know the truth and turn their hearts to Christ for true salvation, freedom, and happiness.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Money Talks"

"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil
 and some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith,
 piercing themselves with many sorrows...."
                         (1 Timothy 6:10)

"Tailored suits, chauffeured cars,
 fine hotels, and big cigars
 up for grabs, up for a price....

 "Come on, come, love me for the money.
  Come on, come on, listen to the money talk....

 AC/DC, the Australian rockers, from "the land down under," several years ago, cranked out a heavy metal anthem dealing with the deceptive and dark life ruled by the love of money. The chorus of the song, "Money Talks" sums up the obsession and greed of human beings possessed by the love of money:

"Come on, Come on, love me for the money.
 Come on, come on, listen to the money talk....

In almost every area of life, money is powerful, money is the final word, money is the dark poison of greed that shapes and rules the human heart.
On July 14, 2015, The P5+1 meetings in Vienna concluded with a historical deal designed to transform Iran and the nations of the world.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, embraced and shook hands on a monumental agreement, giving Iran a nuclear deal and billions of dollars in sanctions relief money.

Missing from the agreement were the release of four American hostages, Iranian pastor, Saeed Abedini, Ex- Marine, Amir Hekmati, Washington Post journalist, Jason Rezaian, and former FBI agent, Robert Levinson.
The lives and well being of four Americans had evidently been sacrificed on the altar of greed and legacy. The greedy Iranians were given a deal on a silver platter that instead of curbing them from gaining a nuclear weapon, it paved the way for them to challenge the Middle East in the near future with weapons of mass destruction!
In addition to the disastrous deal, President Barack Obama added to his crown another jewel stone marked, "legacy", while Secretary of State, John Kerry, cleared a space on his living room shelf, for a possible "Nobel Peace Prize."

Money, greed, power, and legacy has replaced the supreme value of human lives. In Iran, children are forced to work the streets every day begging for money, because their parents are in prison or addicted to drugs. Political prisoners are hanged almost every day, journalists are imprisoned because of their opinion, and bloggers are silenced for speaking out against the government.
The value of human beings and their rights are trampled on and crushed by the evil Iranian regime and if Congress approves the Nuke Deal, then my country will be guilty of financing the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world!

The approval of the "nuke Deal" will line the pockets of the mullahs with billions of dollars in sanctions relief money which they will use to enrich their nuclear capabilities and finance the spread of terrorism through Hamas, Hezbollah, in Syria, Yemen, and every part of the world. The innocent and suffering street children of Iran won't see a "penny" or a Toman of relief from the sanctions money. Poverty and unemployment will continue to deteriorate the inner structure of Iran. Human lives will suffer, prisoners will be executed, and the vicious cycle of death will continue for desperate Iranians.

It was only a few weeks after the Iranian nuclear deal that the world was shocked by the Planned Parenthood Scandal. A secret video taped recording revealed two staff members discussing the sale of aborted fetus body parts and their profits over dinner.
The soul of my nation has been corrupted and deceived by the love of money. The lives of four American citizens hang in the balance because of greedy Mullahs and their thirst for corruption and terrorism.

Money Talks...listen to the money talk. The Bible warns us that the love of money is a disastrous deception that enslaves the human heart and corrupts its thinking. When money is at the center, it becomes a deadly idol that will imprison and torture the human soul. Once that happens, the value of humanity is sacrificed in exchange for the lust of material wealth.

However, money can't buy real love and happiness. Money is temporal, It will soon fade away and then what is left? People suffer and die and money won't prolong a single day of their lives, only true love will.

There is a magnificent mausoleum and shrine in Tehran, Iran, housing the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini. It is a beautiful architectural design with a gold dome, stained glass, supported by eight marble columns, and a lavish decorated interior of white marble floors and fine carpets. 
The Masouleum is a tribute to the legacy of Khomeini, a dictator who ordered the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and enslaved the lives of billions of Iranians under the oppression of Sharia Law.
The wealth of Iran stands in tribute to Khomeini instead of feeding the thousands of suffering and starving homeless people who struggle for survival everyday.

Money Talks...Money Rules..Money deceives......
God has given us wealth to help the oppressed, to feed the hungry, to educate the poor, to bring hope and healing to the sick and needy. Money is not evil. The human heart is. The only cure for the "idol of wealth" is a heart that is healed by the love and forgiveness of Christ. Christ came to heal the brokenhearted

and to set the prisoners free. When Jesus is Lord of our lives, then money is put in the right perspective. Our whole lives, including our wealth, belongs to God and then we are free to be generous with it, it is no longer our slave master!
Christians are called to be the greatest examples of charity and generosity. Christians are not enslaved to the "god" of money.

Several years ago, the band AC/DC wrote a rock ballad about the deceit of money. Don't let the love of money rule your heart. Take one look at Iran and you will see the tragic result of greed and corruption.
Instead, let the love and compassion of God rule your heart and then you will be free to use money for the hope and healing of suffering humanity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Confessions of an Iranian acid attack victim.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.....
  He saves the crushed in spirit......"
                 (Psalm 34:18)

I was born healthy and cute. I was a sweet baby with big, beautiful black eyes. My parents sacrificed so much money and time for my education to make my future secure.
I studied very hard. Studying in Iran is not easy. It is very stressful and very expensive.
Recently the government instructed the universities to offer the majority of the degree programs to only men, depriving women of the opportunity to compete for jobs. Once again, the Iranian Regime is engaging in gender discrimination which is to be expected when living in an Islamic society.
After struggling through University, I met a wonderful man and decided to get married.
You should have seen me! I was a beautiful bride! My parents helped us to have our own dream home.
I was very satisfied and happy. Instead of taking a government job of teaching English, I taught instead at a private institute. The government insisted that I follow all of the Islamic rules and regulations. They quizzed me about the Quran and Islam. I didn't want to be pressured by all of these regulations so teaching at a private institute seemed much more comfortable for me.
Of course, I had to wear a hijab at the institute. Wearing the veil is mandatory for a women in the public workplace.
I was a happy and beautiful bride. I had a great job, a great group of students and a wonderful husband!

Then suddenly, one day, my life totally changed forever!!

I had just rolled down the window of my car to help a motorcycle rider with directions...
when suddenly I was blinded, I couldn't see!!  My whole face felt like a thousand needles had punctured it all at once!!! It was like it was on fire! I screamed and pulled the car off the road as best as I could! My chest, arms and hands felt like I had just climbed inside of a scorched oven!
I immediately began to tear off all of my clothes.

"Cover yourself. You are a woman! Don't remove your clothes in the middle of the street. There are men here!" the voices of women passing by, shouted at me!

I did not know the attacker. I didn't even see his face. What had I done wrong to him?

In just a few seconds he had destroyed my life forever! All that my parents had done for me in more than three decades, he had destroyed in just a few seconds! He had taken everything that God had generously given to me! He had played "God" with my life.
In just a few seconds, he took away my beauty, my eyesight, my future, my life!. He took away everything but my breath....I wish he had killed me...death is better than this life!

I was a patient in the hospital for many long and difficult weeks. I felt like I was in hell when they removed the damaged and scarred skin from my face.  I felt like they had also removed my soul, my whole being!!!  They also took the soul of my parents and husband when they removed the ugly skin from my face.
I will never be able to teach again...the children would be frightened to look at my face.
There is no peace for closure..the government doesn't even look for my attacker. I am scarred and humiliated for life!

I just want my beauty back again, my eyesight back again. I want to smile again. I just want to live again.
I am miserable and yet my attacker is free to enjoy his life. He can see, he can eat, he can have money....he is free to attack more women like me!

My parents have spent all of their money to help husband had to take out a loan and now he cannot pay it off! He is depressed and has to see a psychologist.
I have to get divorced...I have to ask my husband to leave me. He has the right to a normal life. I don't expect him to suffer and "burn" with me.

I just have one question. WHY??? What did I do to deserve this? What sin did I commit? I just want to know who my attacker is...Does he really feel peace now?

Dear God....Please help me....please rescue me from this hell and darkness..please give me beauty again from all of my pain.......

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Happy Mother's Day in Iran."

"It is my pleasure once again to feature another excellent blog written by my dear Iranian friend Paymaneh. 
Paymaneh is an Iranian-Christian refugee living in exile in Malaysia. Even though she lives faraway from her homeland, she has not forgotten her people!  Every week on my radio program I give Paymaneh "a voice" by reading her powerful stories that bring awareness to the plight of the Iranian people who live behind the "iron curtain" of the Islamic Republic of Iran......

A few days ago, the women of Iran were recognized in a special day called, "Mother's day." I wondered to myself, "What do I say to them?"  Do I say, "Happy What?"
Congratulations for what? For being a woman?
This day is not even based on a Persian woman's birthday. Instead is based on an Arab woman's birthday, the birthday of Fatemeh, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

 Does is make any sense for Non-Muslim women in Iran to celebrate this? Haven't they been ignored and disrespected enough already?

There have been great women in Persian History. Mandana, the mother of Cyrus the Great, the founder of special schools where she herself taught students law and trained them to stand up against cruelty and oppression and be a friend of subordinates.
The faithful Queen Shirin, who played a significant role in the history of Persia along with Yutab, a great military commander.....scientists, activists, etc...yet none of them recognized, respected or remembered for their great accomplishments by the Iranian Regime.
I am wondering why Persian women are happy to celebrate the birthday of a non-Iranian woman. Why should they even celebrate Women's day at all?
Should Persian women be happy that they are considered second class citizens due to their gender? Should they be happy that their testimony is worth only half that of a man's according to the Quran? Should they be happy for not having any rights to select what they wear? Should they be happy that they are not allowed to marry without their father's permission, that they are forbidden to have a job or even travel abroad without their husband's permission?

Being a Persian woman means you cannot live your own life. It means you must sacrifice yourself as a sister, a mother and as a wife. Being a Persian woman means if your husband is cruel to you and your children, you must endure it because you are a woman.
Being a Persian woman means that if your husband is cruel and considers you his slave, but you desire to follow your own dreams, then in reality, you are a cruel mother and irresponsible wife...He is not cruel for wanting to imprison you in his small and dark world!
A Persian woman doesn't have any rights to decide if she wants to be a mother or not.....She has no rights to her own body....If a woman is betrayed by her husband, she must keep quiet and not tell anyone, but if she betrays her husband, a cruel punishment awaits her by her family, law and society, and because she is a woman she will be publicly stoned!
If a Persian woman is raped, she must shut her mouth, she is not a victim, instead she is suspected of having done something wrong to attract the attention of a man and cause the rape! A woman who is the victim of a horrible rape has brought shame to her community and she lives with this guilt for the rest of her life!
Being A Persian woman means that if your father in law ruins your face and blinds you by an acid attack, the only way to retain custody of your children is to forgive him and not ask for his punishment, as if he had not done anything wrong to you... as if you were blind and deformed from birth!
As I was writing this article, I was saddened by the news of an acid attack victim. She had finally died from her injuries, leaving behind her precious daughter, who did nothing wrong but was also attacked and now has only one eye!

Dear women, please do not be deceived by this sentence, "Paradise is under a mother's feet,"Nothing good is waiting for you in paradise, but your husband will be having fun with his many female angels!

Happy Mother's Day dear women of Iran!

 (About the author, Paymaneh Sabet)

I am an Iranian lecturer, a teacher, and a translator. But previously I also wrote for journals. I love writing and making short films. I love to write about romance, love stories and the greatest love story between God and His people.
It is my duty to use my gifts and talents to

stand up against the dictatorship in Iran and cry out for their freedom. I want to do my best to reach them with the gospel, inspite of their barriers and limitations. I want the world to know the true know their faces and the human rights atrocities they have suffered with for the past 35 years.
My biggest dream is that Iranians will know the truth and turn their hearts to Christ for true salvation, freedom, and happiness.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"President Obama, Are you with the Iranian people?"

"I thought that President Obama understood the feeling of being
 oppressed by being an African-American himself...."
                                  (Nasrin Mohammadi) 

For as long as I live, I will never forget watching the violent and horrifying images of the protests of the presidential election in Tehran in 2009. Police and Baisji chasing protesters on motorcycles and beating them with batons.....overturned cars and trashcans on fire, Iranians lying in the streets, their clothes soaked with blood, a sea of Iranian people dressed in green, yelling, "Death to the dictator!" and the most graphic and frightening image of all, Neda Soltan lying on her back, her eyes widened in shock and blood pouring out from her chest........
Perhaps the one image that will forever stay etched in my mind, in the midst of all of the chaos and turmoil, the image of the desperate protesters, screaming for freedom and democracy, I can still hear their haunting chant, a question with a plea:

"President Obama, Are you with the Iranian people or with the Mullahs?"

Nasrin Mohammadi is my dear friend. She is an Iranian-American human rights activist who lives in Los Angeles, California. She came to America from Iran more than seven years ago after suffering one of the most painful experiences of her life. Her brother Akbar, a human rights activist and leader of the Student movement in Tehran, had finally died in Evin Prison as the result of years of torture at the hands of a merciless regime.
Nasrin retained her brother's prison diary and published it in a powerful book entitled, "Ideas and lashes: the prison diary of Akbar Mohammadi."
I had invited Nasrin to be a guest on my radio program, "The Cross in the Desert: Speaking hope and freedom to Iran."

The first question I asked Nasrin was, "When you see President Obama, If you will, sitting across the table negotiating with the Iranian Regime that killed your brother Akbar in Evin Prison in 2006, Do you feel betrayed by your president?"

There was a brief moment of silence as Nasrin collected her emotions and then she replied..........

"Of course, I feel betrayed, yes, unfortunately he chose not to stand by the oppressed Iranian people.....

Nasrin's voice cracked with emotion and then she excitedly proclaimed........

"I thought President Obama understood the feeling of being oppressed by being an African American himself........I thought the history of black slavery would make him feel sympathetic to those people under oppression!"

Nasrin is exactly right! Racism, the rights of black people, oppression, slavery....the media reminds us almost everyday of our evil "white" history. Given the facts of history and personal experience, one would think that President Obama would truly empathize with the Iranian people and would be more than willing to immediately rush to their aid....but incredibly somehow...Nuclear rights have become more important than human rights!
But wait a minute!!! When Michael Brown was shot by a Darrel Wilson, a white Ferguson police office, the Obama Administration wasted no time in sending the Department of Justice to St. Louis to conduct an immediate investigation....hmmmm seems like a huge double standard to me!..So race determines human rights?

Paymaneh Sabet is an Iranian-Christian refugee, living in exile in Malaysia. She also is a talented journalist and activist for her people. We are great friends! Even though she is a refugee living in exile, she has not forgotten her people. She periodically writes powerful articles about Iranians and their struggles for human rights. She emails the articles to me and I read them on my radio program. Recently I asked her to write an article about the nuclear negotiations. She promptly replied with an emotional letter to President Obama which read in part:

"Mr. President, you are helping the Islamic government in Iran to kill it's own people! This nation hoped you would help them restore what President Jimmy Carter did to them 35 years ago that paved the way for the Islamic revolution...Mr President, my nation is desperate, they are dying from suffocation, struggling to breathe, and they feel hopeless. They are crying out for human rights, while you negotiate for nuclear rights..."

Every day, I am saddened to hear that more political prisoners have been executed. Desperate Iranians who speak out or disagree with the government are silenced by the noose! Since Rouhani took office as the new president in August of 2013, executions have tripled..more than 1,000 prisoners have been marched to the gallows under his watch! The prison conditions are deplorable with poisoned food, rampant disease and continuous abuse and torture. Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor, and Amir Hekmati, a former marine and American citizen, languish in prison in Iran while we sit at the negotiating table with the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world!

While some Iranians, who are naively sympathetic to the cause of their government, chant,
"death to America and death to Israel," the Obama Administration and John Kerry respond with a warm, cozy and intimate trust to a regime that cannot be trusted! We shake hands and promise relief from sanctions and funnel billions of dollars to a government who will use that money to further their terrorist grip in Yemen and Syria, and all over the world,
while the people of Iran suffer!  Inflation, unemployment, suicide, drug abuse and no access to life saving medication, is the desperate plight of the Iranian people while the government relentlessly pursues their nuclear ambitions!

The 2009 election protests are now a part of history. Yet many of the protesters are still suffering in prison. The new president, with his charming smile and softer tone of voice compared to his predecessor, is busy deceiving the world with promises of reform..but its still the same old political game of deception.
The negotiations will continue until the June deadline. Iranians will still suffer and although massive bloody protests in the streets of Tehran are just images from the past, I can still hear their loud and haunting chant:

"President Obama, Are you with the people of Iran or with the Mullahs?"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Please don't deport me!"

It is my pleasure to once again feature another powerful blog from my dear Iranian friend Paymaneh.
Paymaneh is an Iranian Christian refugee and activist, living in Malaysia. She understands well the plight of Iranian refugees who are struggling to survive in exile, while patiently waiting for a visa and passport to a new homeland.
If you ask any Iranian they will tell you in tears, "I should never have to look for freedom anywhere else...I love my country!"
Paymaneh's new  blog is a very personal and emotional plea to the immigration board for residencey. Being deported back to Iran will result in almost certain death!

I am writing to you, to you who have the power, to you who have the authority, to you who use your authority to support your nation. To you who keep your country as peaceful as possible.

I am writing to you, to you who think that I am like my government. To you who think that I am a terrorist, to you who think I want to wipe out civilization, and destroy it instead of improving it and bringing beauty, happiness and welfare to the world.....

I am writing to you, to plead with you, to try and convince you, "I don't like the Iranian government! I am not like my government!"  
"Iran" doesn't exist anymore! There is only a piece of land that is left, covered by the blood of Mullahs.....

I am writing to you, who makes the decision whether to allow me to remain in your country or not, to you who can change my life by writing a short statement, to you who can send me back to Iran, into the hands of Mullahs, to be jailed, executed or to rot in prison cell for the rest of my life.....

I am writing to you, I am not an impostor!~ I'm not trying to "Islamisize" the world, even though I cannot prove that to you....I am not like the terrorist in Sydney..I'm not even a Muslim..Instead, I'm a child of the king, a Christian.....I have a burden to "gospelize" the world, by spirit, by love, by kindness..not by war..not by force...I don't want to "Islamisize" the world.. I'm a Persian, an Iranian, the descendant of Cyrus the Great..The king who wrote the "first charter of human rights"
 over 2,000 years before Mohammed..

You can send me back, supposing I will be safe, but I will be killed! Every single gospel preacher who loses their life or is kept in jail, the opportunity of thousands of people's salvation is lost because of that! Every single Bible that would be translated is stopped, the opportunity for millions of people to read the good news, is lost because they are rotting in prison!

You can send me back, but I am more than just an individual....I am my nation..I am Iran... 
I am tired, hopeless, hungry, thirsty, desperately searching for the truth......
You can send me back, dead or alive...But I have eternal life and my nation desperately need this life, too!

                                                About the author.....(Paymaneh Sabet)

I am an Iranian lecturer, a teacher, and a translator. But previously, I also wrote for journals. I love writing and making short films. I love to write about romance, love stories and the greatest love story between God and His people. It is also my duty to use my gifts and talents to stand up against the dictatorship in Iran and cry out for their freedom. I want to do my best to reach them with the gospel, inspite of the barriers and limitations. I want the world to know about the true know their faces and the human rights atrocities they have suffered with for the past 36 years.
My biggest dream is that Iranians will know the truth and turn their hearts to Christ for true salvation, freedom and happiness.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Your next door neighbor is a Muslim..."

"Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of soul and with all your mind.....
 This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself......"
                             (Matthew 22:34-40)

During his earthly ministry, Jesus was asked by the elite religious leaders, what was the greatest commandment. They often asked Jesus questions, not because they were interested in pleasing God, but rather to test and discredit him before the masses of people. However, Jesus knew the motives of their hearts and was quick to silence their deceitfulness. But they never gave up and in Matthew's gospel, once again the Pharisees and Scribes put Jesus to the test!

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus gave a masterful answer to their question. He pointed out that the ultimate way to please God is to love him with our whole being. Loving God is the at the core of what it means to be a Christian. It is the identifying mark of a genuine faith, But notice what Jesus added. If we claim to love God, then it must also be evident in the way that we treat others. Jesus points out that "loving God," is not an isolated act, but a visible one and if we claim to love him, then it will be evident in the way we treat our neighbor.

Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha were newlyweds. They had only been married for a little over a month. Deah was a vibrant, bright, intelligent and energetic student in his second year of dental school at the University of North Carolina. Yusor had planned to begin her dental studies in the fall. They were both busily engaged in raising money for a trip this summer to provide dental care for the suffering Syrian people in Turkey. Deah and Yusor were both dedicated Muslims committed to bringing compassion and relief to the suffering masses of humanity. Razan Abu, Yusor's sister, had recently been recognized by the university for her artistic endeavor in abstract model making. Deah, Yusor and Razan, were three young and beautiful Muslims at the prime of their lives, studying hard to make a difference in the world.....and in just a few terrifying seconds, their hopes and dreams were shattered by an angry, out-of-control neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, who shot them each in the head in a rage execution, over an alleged parking dispute!

I have a live weekly blog talk radio program entitled, "The Cross in the desert: speaking hope and freedom to Iran." My radio program is dedicated to making listeners aware what life is like for my dear Iranian friends behind the "iron curtain" of the Islamic republic. The Islamic Regime is cruel and harsh to the Muslims living in Iran and torture them in prison if they dare to disagree and speak out against the many human rights violations. Besides being a "voice of hope," for my Muslim friends, I am also an author of Christian novels. Three years ago, I wrote a book called, "Tears in a bottle: Seeing through their eyes."
Tears in a bottle, is the story of an abused Muslim woman named Esther, who moves to New York City, with her husband and child, during the heated controversy over building a mosque near the World Trade Center Memorial. Struggling to overcome the hatred from non-Muslims and fighting to stay alive in an abusive marriage, Esther is desperate and hopeless until she meets Ariel, a Christian woman, one day in Central Park and her life is transformed forever!
I wrote Tears in a bottle to point out that not every Muslim is a terrorist. Muslims are human beings just like you and me, with hurts, and fears and struggles, that need our love and compassion instead of our hatred and judgment! My book focuses in on how a simple friendship, a listening ear, a caring heart, can bring hope to a troubled life. Ariel took the time to listen to Esther's problems and invested her time and energy into her life. Even though they both came from two different religious backgrounds, they both agreed to love each other unconditionally.
 When I heard the tragic news of the three Muslims from Chapel hill being executed by an angry neighbor, I was heart broken! I immediately thought about my book and remembered the reason why I wrote it. I dedicated my radio program to Deah, Yusor and Razan and prayed for God to bring comfort and healing to their families.
Jesus taught that if we really love God, then we must demonstrate that in the way we treat our neighbors! Craig Hicks was a neighbor to Deah and Yusor. Yusor was terrified of Craig, telling her father that he showed up on her doorstep with a gun in his belt, arguing about parking spaces. She was convinced that he didn't like them because they were Muslims.
What about you? Are your next door neighbors Muslims?
Just a cursory reading through the gospels, and it becomes obvious how Jesus treated people. He was never judgmental, but instead compassionate and respectful to the every person, from every walk of life, from the fisherman, to the tax collector, the highest nobility and even to the lowest prostitute! Jesus lived by what he taught. He loved his neighbor. He was motivated by love and compassion. However, the opposite is true, when we are motivated by fear and suspicion. When our hearts are ruled by the "stereotypes" created by the media, that Muslims are no different than the members of ISIS, then instead of getting to know our neighbors, we erect walls of fear and hatred that make friendship impossible.
I have many Muslim friends on Facebook, in Iran and Malaysia and here in the United States. We chat together, pray together and sometimes even cry together. At the hospital where I work, I have a very good Muslim friend. Her name is Menny. She is from Morocco. Every time that I see her, she greets me with a smile and wants to know how my day is and how my wife is doing. If I'm having a stressful day, I'm one hundred percent better after I've talked with Menny!  My stress is gone. Menny is the prefect example of a real human being, a very peaceful Muslim, who has nothing to do with terrorism or ISIS!  She is my friend and

my neighbor. I didn't approach her with stereotypes or suspicions. I didn't build a wall of fear. Instead I got to know her and she is one of my best friends at work!

Tears in a bottle is a book about friendship...friendship between Muslims and Christians. The title of my book is based on a precious little verse in the book of Psalms.  
Psalm 56 verse 8 says of God,  "You keep track of all of my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

God cares about all of our tears and hurts and pains. He understands our suffering extremely well because he experienced it first hand. Jesus bore all of our guilt and shame when he died on the cross. In his suffering and death, he removed it, he took it out of the way so that we could have a real love relationship with God. In my radio tribute to Deah, Yusor, and Razan, I mentioned this verse and talked about how God uniquely understands our suffering and pain. God is not a "far away" distant deity in the midst of our pain. He is an ever present help in our time of need. The Bible teaches that He is close to us in our brokenness!

Psalm 34 verse 18 declares, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted: he rescues those whose spirits are crushed..."

I prayed for the families of the slain Muslims, that they would feel the love and comfort of God, that they would sense his presence and recognize that he is there in their midst, right with them in the midst of their grief and sorrow. 
We need to stop building walls between ourselves and our Muslim neighbors!  We need to stop allowing the media to distort the picture of who they really are!  Most Muslims are peaceful, law abiding citizens who deserve our love and respect instead of our fear and judgment. One neighbor allowed the media, his fears, his hatred and anger to control his heart and as a result, three Muslims became his victims instead of his friends! 
Jesus taught us to "love our neighbors as we love ourselves..."
What will you do?